Jesus in China: PBS interview with Zhao Xiao
Zhao Xiao is a prominent Chinese economist who has gained attention for arguing that China’s economy would benefit from the spread of Christianity. He wrote an essay in the Chinese edition of Esquire entitled “God Is My Chairman of the Board” which was based on a paper called “Market Economies With Churches and Market Economies Without Churches.” He later converted to Christianity. Here, he talks with FRONTLINE/World reporter Evan Osnos about what Christianity could bring to China, the relationship between morality and a market economy, and his own conversion to Christianity.
The interview was edited for clarity.
Evan Osnos: When did you begin studying the U.S. markets to write the article about Christianity’s influence on them?
ZHAO XIAO: I wrote it in 2002. During that time, I went to America to observe and study what kind of differences there are between the market economies of the United States and China. The one fundamental difference I discovered is that, in America, there are churches everywhere. On the other hand, in China — and I’ll crack a joke — there are bathhouses everywhere. So I wrote an article entitled “Market Economies With Churches and Market Economies Without Churches.” This is the first time in the 20 years of China’s reform and opening up that anyone in the field of economics undertook a comparison of different market economies from the perspective of morality and a moral market.
What did you learn in your research?
I discovered that there is a foundation of morality behind the American market economy. In China, on the other hand, we have concentrated a lot on economic reforms but have not paid much attention to that moral foundation. We still need a transition in the area of morality. Only then can this kind of organic transformation be a thorough reform.
The entire interview can be viewed here.